This years Club Championships will take place next Sunday, 11th September. Both TT & Road Race championships will take place , with the TT being conducted under the “Gentlemen’s Rules” –
- Riders must predict their time before attempting the course, which will be approximately 5-7km in length.
- NO TIMING DEVICES PERMITTED – ie; no Garmin’s allowed on your bike.
- The winner will be whoever predicts their time closest to their actual time.
- “Eddy Merckx” style, road bikes only.
- Route will be posted once finalised – will be on the link road.
- Winner will be presented with the inaugural “Pummelled Pidgeon” Trophy.
The TT will be the first event of the day, beginning at 9:30 am.
The Road Race, where the winner will be presented with the coveted “Bludgeoned Badger” Trophy, will take place afterwards, beginning at approximately 10:30 and will be on the ATC Brick Lap, and will be 8 laps of the 3.2km circuit, beginning at the Vets, and finishing on the TT finish on the Link Road.
These events are open to ALL Club Members, and will be immediately proceeded with presentation of trophies & coffee and cakes in a local caffeine & baked goods establishment!
There’s an old cliché in cycling, oft heard on Wheelers club spins, when our usual purveyor of trite catchphrases, Seán Power, utters it when he’s been dropped; “Some days you’re the hammer, some days you’re the nail.”
No sentiment could be more fitting for the Wheelers this past weekend, as Saturday saw a first victory of the season for Ross O’Keeffe in the A4 Ras an Ceatharlach, and with his brother Bryan and the aforementioned mouthpiece Seán crossing the line in 12th and 15th respectively, another fine day on the national scene for the club.
A stark contrast to Sunday, when a series of mechanicals and bad luck plagued the O’Keeffe brothers, as they took on the Clonmel CC 3 Stage – 1 Day in Tipperary.
Ras an Ceatharlach
On a fine and sunny Saturday morning, there is no better feeling than riding your bike. The race of the day would be Rás an Ceatharlach, and 4 Athy men would take on the event. Ross, Dave, Bryan & Seán all headed for Carlow for the A$ contest. Seán needed only 1 point to upgrade to A3, though knew his form might not be there on this day “I’m not in great shape, hopefully I’ll be able to do a bit of work for Ross and get him up there for a few points.”
The start of the race was fairly typical for A4 racing, no breakaways with any real impetus to stay away and a rapid pace being set at the front. For the duration of the first 20km there would be a visible train of pink through the peloton as the Athy men stayed together. A reasonably quiet first lap, there would be raised heart rates just before the finish line, as two riders darted up a gap on the inside, a gap that probably wasn’t there, and the all too familiar sound of a collision rang out. “I was in Seán’s wheel when two guys went down right in front of us,” Dave said, “to avoid the crash I grazed Seán’s arse with my knuckle, nearly taking us both down.” Though both Wheelers would manage to remain upright and continue to race. “It was a moment of madness really,” remarked Seán, “there was no need for guys to be pressing through gaps like that so early in the race.”
The second lap was where the curse of the Wheelers would begin to show itself, and as the peloton traversed the 20% climb at the halfway point of the lap, Dave’s chain would snap. “A brief moment of panic and high cadence ensued” as Dave would raise his hand and unfortunately that would be the end of his race. A difficult way to leave the race, particularly as it seemed he was in good form.
The third lap began in much the same vein as the preceding laps. There was no noticeable elevation in pace, as would be usual in these events. As the race left Carlow and headed across the back section towards Castledermot a breakaway managed to establish itself. Seán immediately responded and tried unsuccessfully to bridge – “I was breathing through my eyeballs, and the other lads in the small group wouldn’t work, so I sat up and went back to the bunch.”
It wouldn’t be long before Seán would be back at the front though this time a much more measured effort from the all-rounder, pacing the bunch as he set about chasing the break “I knew I had to get them back to get Ross in there.” As he dropped into a tuck he tapped out the rhythm on the front to the bottom of the steep section, where he dropped back.
As the bunch descended into Castledermot Seán set about trying to find Ross, but while they were alongside each other there were two bikes between them, Ross was boxed in on the inside “I looked for Ross – He was in the gutter as usual, dodging potholes” Bryan noted after the race. Badly positioned within the bunch exiting Castledermot, Seán knew his day was over “I just couldn’t move up the bunch. It swelled near the front, I just wanted to get in safely.” Bryan, however had other things on his mind – “I tried to move up the field coming into the fast finish.”
And a fast finish is what it would be. “I moved up the inside with 3km to go, got into the top 15 inside the last km” Ross described the frantic finish. “A gap opened with 300m to go so I gave it a dig and got to the front and sat back down. I gave it one more go, and just timed it perfectly.”
A fine victory for the Wheelers, a first since 2014, and no doubt the first of many to come for Ross. Further down the bunch, Bryan and Seán would manage to both get in the top 15, with Bryan managing 12th place, “I hadn’t even realised Ross had won until I seen Seán congratulating him” observed Bryan, a testament to the pace at the end.
Clonmel GP – 3 Stages 1 Day
Brand new to the calendar, was the 3 stages in 1 Day Clonmel GP. A chip timed event, beginning with a gruelling 1.2km Hill Climb TT with 300m of climbing, a 50km circuit race and the final stage, a 24 km road race culminating in with an 8km climb to a summit finish.
Only 2 of the team could make this race, and it was our ever present weekend race crew, The Nefarious O’Keeffe Brothers ™, who would make the ‘Trip to Tipp’ for the new adventure.
It began with a mechanical for Bryan, puncturing during his warmup, getting it repaired, then puncturing again just 300m into the TT. He was given a replacement wheel, but alas, the different configuration of gears would result in the cassette on the new wheel pulling his derailleur off and snapping his hanger. Day over.
Ross fared slightly better on the first stage, getting up the hill, but shipping 50 seconds to the stage winner. The second stage was where he would be looking for his result for the day, a circuit race through Clonmel. Ross was with the bunch and in good position with 300m to go when his chain dropped. A worse time for that particular mechanical, I don’t believe there is one.
The final stage would be where it would have to come from so, but unfortunately, most likely following his exploits the day before, Ross would be dropped with 3km to go to the summit finish. To add injury to insult, on the descent back down to the town, Ross came a cropper on a hairpin and went over the handlebars or the bike.
They say that some days you’re the hammer and some days you’re the nail. When you race a bicycle, one thing is for sure, you’re going to have a headache!!!
Welcome to 2016, and the first in our series of race reports and other blogging activity. there have been a number of wheelers involved in several races so far this year already, and most recently they made the trip to Club league partners ossory cc in rathdowney for their annual race.
A beautiful sunny spring morning was what greeted the Wheelers as they woke up last Easter Sunday, though the glow belied a cool nip and stiff breeze in the air. The sunbeams would disappear just in time for warm ups, as Ross, Bryan, Martin, Seán & Dave began their preparation for what would go on to be a gruelling afternoon’s racing, dominated by a headwind and two laps of a challenging course with some testing climbs. Discussions among the team prior to the race centred on who was feeling good, who wasn’t, and, most importantly, how many layers everyone was wearing. Just before the beginning of the afternoon’s proceedings, a small hailstorm fell, increasing trepidation in an already nervous crew, “I was ready to pack the bike back up there and then,” remarked Seán Power, the most experienced of Athy’s contingent on the day, “it was already going to be a hard day, with a big peloton, hailstones were the icing on the cake!!”
Luckily, perhaps, the hail moved off and the riders made their way to the start line to receive last minute instructions from the day’s Commisaire. The race began with a 600 meter rollout from the HQ through the centre of town, and once the flag dropped the racing began and straight away the pace was frenetic, with Athy’s Ross O’Keefe making his way to the front and driving the pace during the opening kilometres. After an initial 2 man breakaway had been reeled back in, Ross retreated for some shelter in the bunch. The technical circuit had many nerves twitching, and after reaching the Manor Stone complex a larger break went up the road and was holding the lead through Ballacolla. The elastic was beginning to snap through the peloton at this point, and Dave and Martin began to get distanced, Dave noted at this point that he was suffering – “it’s not good to be touching 95% of max HR this early into a race!”
As the road began to point up and the break was being reeled in, Seán made a move to bridge to the breakaway. This attack would prove to be decisive as he went past the six man breakaway group and continued to drive on, putting a couple of bike lengths between himself and the main group as he continued to push on as he came over the top. He would shortly be joined by another rider from Blarney CC and the two continued to press on for a number of kilometres, which would also be the move that split the race. “I was feeling decent at the start of the attack, I hadn’t realised I’d gapped the entire bunch when I was kicking on. I was definitely glad to have been joined by the other guy when I was though, I was in the hurt-box by then” Seán said following the race.
The breakaway moved out of sight of the main peloton “We could see that Seán was after getting away and had a really good gap, no one seemed minded to chase it down and we were happy to sit in” said Ross, who would shortly fall victim to what has become the curse of the Wheelers in recent weeks, a puncture. The breakaway was joined by two more riders as they began to cross the longest climb of the lap, and this gave the existing two break-men the impetus they needed to continue for a time longer.
But it was not to be for the breakaway. “It just didn’t feel like it was working. I knew we were putting in a big effort, but the load didn’t appear to be shared effectively” remarked a visibly spent Power following his day. “I felt like I was way too deep in the red-zone to keep it up, especially if I wanted to have anything for the end. I was being gapped by the other guys as they came around and was having to spend a bit too much to continue to keep fighting to hold the wheel.” After a massive effort for the previous 15km Seán sat up, and looked to the safety of the bunch to try and recover some energy.
It may be fair to say that his presence was missed from the break, though probably more accurate to say that the deteriorating weather conditions had more of an effect, as the remaining riders were swept up in the next couple of kilometres as the race came back together for the second lap. The pace ramped up again, as did the wind and a short shower of rain, more riders were being dropped. Around the turn into Ballacolla and up the short steep climb once more, it would prove a ramp too much for Seán – “The legs just went. I couldn’t turn the pedals anymore.” This left only one Wheeler in the race, after Martin & Dave had also pulled up earlier in the race.
Bryan O’Keefe would continue to fly the flag for the Wheelers as the race predominantly stayed together for the remainder of the race and take a fine finish at the pointy end the main bunch. There followed the usual frantic sprint finish, as is the norm in A4 racing. “It was nice to finish with the bunch” said Bryan after the race. A great day for Bryan and the club, something he will definitely be looking to build on. There is plenty to reflect on for the Wheelers this week, as Seán laments poor tactical decisions and Dave reconsiders his caffeine intake strategy, “7 cups of coffee before 12 pm really screws with your warm up and your heart rate!!” Some harsh lessons learned all round.
Next up for the racing team is the trip up to Meath, and hopefully more favourable conditions as they participate in the inaugural Kilmessan GP. This race will be of particular interest to Seán, who grew up in Kilmessan, and the circuit passes both his family home & his grandmother’s house, so we’ll be expecting to see some fireworks from him again!! A4 racing begins at 10am on what is probably best described as a rolling parcour, finishing up a hill that would not be out of place in a Belgian Classic.
It is with great pleasure that Athy Wheelers Cycling Club announce a new primary sponsor for 2016/17. K-Leisure (www.kildareleisure.ie) will be our new title sponsors going forward, assisting all our members achieve their fitness & cycling goals as our indoor strength and interval training facility.
K-Leisure operates two facilities, one in Naas and one in Athy. Both offer ultra-modern facilities, including 25 metre swimming pools, state of the art TechnoGym gym equipment & a wide variety of fitness classes, suited to all levels of fitness. From beginners to improvers to veterans, K-Leisure has the facility to help you achieve your fitness goals.
K Leisure buildings and car parks are designed specifically to comply with and exceed all the requirements outlined by the regulations embracing the concept of universal access. All swimming pools are fully accessible and have changing facilities designed with this in mind. Gyms have a selection of accessible equipment available to gym users.
The Wheelers are excited with their new partnership with such a great facility for members, and are looking forward to working with the staff at K-Leisure to continue to develop cycling in the town of Athy!!
STARTING THIS SUNDAY (20th JULY) @ 10am from the Courthouse
5 week training spins, Building up to the Leinster Loop 50k Cill Dara Cruise on the 17th August.
Starting this Sunday @ 10am, spins suitable for beginner/inexperienced cyclists, male and female, aged 18 years+ (under 18s must be accompanied by a guardian).
First spin will be 20-25km, with a coffee stop perhaps (cycling is a social sport after all). Start and finish together, nobody will be left behind!!
Roadbikes or Hybrids only, must be in good working order.
First two spins will be at your own risk, then club membership and a basic Cycling Ireland licence will be required for insurance purposes.
Midweek spins will be on Wednesdays, details to follow.
Please bring a rain jacket, drink, a snack (banana is the cyclist usual choice), a spare tube, a pump and tyre levers. And money for coffee!!
Contact Kieran or email email@example.com for more info.
HELMETS MUST BE WORN!!!!
Well, we promised a few more updates, and here’s the first. It’s Seán’s firsthand account of the race in Kildare last month, where he took the club’s maiden race victory (albeit tecnichally a tie). The Wheelers are incredibly proud of Seán’s achievement, and how he has developed as a race contender over the past 18 months or so, and look forward to him bagging a few more results this year, and in the next few years.
The day didn’t start like any other race day. The race was a late start at 3:30pm so the absence of the panic surrounding getting out the door in the morning probably led to no real nerves. I hadn’t any expectation coming into the race; I’d had a week off the bike before a Team Time Trial on Thursday and a 65km spin to work on Friday morning. I was feeling stiff and a bit sore.
As we waited for race to begin I was in good humour, meeting up with a lot of the guys from Kilcullen, Naas and Ossory CC’s, having a laugh and a joke, talking about bikes and the Tour de Suisse and Criterium du Dauphine. As the race rolled out of the HQ at Kildare Farm Foods I realised it was neutralised for the first half kilometre or so, and a rolling start, which was a first for me.
It was a nice sized bunch in the A4 category, there was only about 60 riders, probably a casualty of the race being on a Saturday. I felt good about that, hoping for a race without accidents like the last time out in the Meath GP where the bigger field led to a few people being irresponsible on the bike.
From the gun I could tell it was going to be fast, and the attacking started early with a group going out straight away, but were pulled back in quickly enough. I started to try move up the bunch as we went up the only real hill, I know I’m no natural climber, but I looked to be in ok form. I figured if I could stay with the bunch and finish the race I’d be happy, but in the back of my mind I thought that hill would be my undoing – probably on the last lap.
As I was getting near the front of the bunch I noticed John had gotten away up the road with a small group. There was a Stamullen rider and a Lucan rider with him, and maybe two more. I could see a Lucan man right on the front of the peloton. I made my way right up and tried to talk the Lucan guy into slowing down the chase to let the break go – it made sense, we both had a man in the break. It seemed to have the opposite effect as the Lucan rider was joined by a teammate and they put in a big chase. As that break was pulled in a counter attack went off the front and I managed to get in to it. I was feeling fairly comfortable and really wanted to ride hard and make this break stick, but the other guys didn’t seem to want to work, so we were caught back fairly quickly.
As the second lap went on I got nearer the head of the bunch and noticed that the riding was a bit pedestrian. I attacked coming around a corner from about 10th wheel and went away from the bunch on my own, I was joined by a guy from Dublin Wheelers and another, but again, they were leaving me to do the lion’s share of work at the front so I just sat up and we got swallowed back up. The race pretty much continued in that vein, there were attacks and breaks but they were always brought back in quickly enough.
At the start of the third lap I thought my day was over when an Orwell rider punctured right in front of me in the outside and I couldn’t get around him and wound up being spat out the back of the bunch, panic ensued and after a massive chase I caught back on to the end of the peloton. I got into one more break on lap 3, and as I was at the head of the peloton after we had been caught back when I heard the unmistakeable sound of John’s Cosmics coming from the group. A cursory glance to the right showed me exactly what I expected to see, John Fox had his grind face on and he was on the attack and there were a couple of guys going with him, so I stemmed the pace on the front as much as I could. I was soon overtaken as Lucan again set about chasing down the break.
At the start of the last lap I decided to try one more break, and went away with one or two other guys, I led the group up the hill and just as I crested the top a Dungarvan rider attacked out of the break, I had no gas to follow after the climb, so I let myself get swallowed back up by the bunch and started to look to get back towards John. Coming to the halfway point of the lap I was feeling good, got up alongside John and we started to make the plan for the finish. We had discussed earlier in the day that the finish might suit me to get up towards the top 8 – and snag a few points (and a couple of €s). With about 5km to go I was in John’s wheel and feeling good, and as we approached the last little climb I got a bit distanced from John and wound up with two bikes in between us. As we came down the descent and around the last corner the pace went through the roof and it started to get crowded, with bikes all across the road. I was boxed in near the middle of the bunch, a stamullen rider popped in in front of me and gave my front wheel a rub, which caused my handlebars to shake a bit, but I managed to hold it up. As this happened I managed to get onto the wheel of a guy (not sure which team, but he was on a nice Cannondale), and he looked like he wanted to move up, so I carried on with him. As we passed the 800m to go sign there were two (yeah, 2!!) Lucan sprint trains getting ready, one either side of the peloton.
The speed was now up at about 57kph. At about 500m I was two bike lengths behind John, and he seen I was a bit boxed in, so he made a huge dig and this strung the whole bunch out, which was exactly what I needed. I moved up around the outside and with about 250m to go I snapped the elastic. I was about to find out how good my sprint really was. I passed john and could hear him shout encouragement at me. I gave it the beans, absolutely everything I had. I knew that nobody had jumped right on to my wheel, but at about 50m to go I had a quick look back through the legs as I could hear somebody coming up. I immediately recognised the fluorescent yellow shoes of Evren Unal, a Newbridge man with as strong a dig as my own. I was almost spent, but started to churn once more to try and keep the power up and get over, but I knew Evren had the upper hand as he was coming up from second wheel. As he pulled alongside me we were closing fast on the line, I was starting to fade. I thought he might have just got his nose in front by the width of a tyre. As we crossed the line I threw the handlebars as far as I could with everything I had left. I had no idea if I’d managed to get over the line first. My heart told me I had shaded it, my gut said Evren had taken it, my head hadn’t a clue. I was still trying to process the fact that one way or the other I had just taken a podium place in an open race, a first for me and for the club.
And so the wait began, for the photo finish commisaire to make his decision. There was a lot of chatter back at the race HQ about it amongst the A4s. Word began to filter that there was no discernible gap between the wheels at the line, and so a dead heat was called. So I had won the race. I still felt a little incredulous at the whole thing, I had started today’s race thinking that a finish with the bunch would be a good day out, I never expected to be anywhere near the front of the bunch.
And all this while riding on a 13 year old steel frame bike. Lance Armstrong may have disgraced the sport and people’s perceptions of cycling, but he may have had one thing right – It’s not about the bike.
The little platitude at the end notwithstanding, we reckon that’s a fairly balanced account of the race. The Wheelers must add that any personal views expressed above are those of Seán Power and do not necessarily reflect the views of the club. Also, just for interest, have a look below at the official photo finish from the day, with thanks to Francis Gibson from Cycling Ireland. We reckon it’s fairly close, Seán thinks he won. And he probably would have, if he wasn’t sprinting whilst up on the hoods…..
After a few months down from some technical issues we are back live and online, with thanks to Oliver, our Website sponsor/internet Guru at irish-web.com, for the hard work in correcting our server issue. The website will be getting an overhaul in the coming weeks with a lot more pictures and media content going up (we’ve even got a race fully recorded from a handlebar mounted camera – exciting stuff). We also collected the award for best new entrant in the 2014 parade!!
For those of you who may have missed it so far, 2014 has started brightly for the Wheelers. The club continues to grow and success has started to follow.
Membership is still open. Please note that presently we are a road racing focused club, as the majority of our members wish to race/train or aspire to it in the future. Leisure cycling is an area we would like to be able to facilitate in the future, but the club will require a core group of cyclists who wish to cycle for leisure and some group leaders before we can facilitate this.
Racing – Cahill/Global Cycles Inter Club League
Racing has been successful thus far this year, and where racers cut their teeth is in the interclub league. The club riders have been aggressive and have had a few notable results – we’ll do a seperate post on this, but there has been a podium finish and several Prime Sprints already taken so far. Next up is our home leg – The Individual Time Trial, with the current champion, Athy’s own John Fox determined to defend his crow. Thursday 3rd of July, with youth racing starting from 7 pm on the Athy-Mullaghmast link road. Sure to be an exciting night.
Racing – Open National Races
The club have also had success in Open Races, most notably with sprinter Seán Power taking a joint victory in the Ned Flanagan Trophy A4 race a few weeks ago – we have a copy of the photo finish, a dead heat between Seán and his usual interclub league sparring partner Evren Unal of Newbridge CC. We will also have more information in separate posts about some of the other races we’ve taken part in, including Seán’s win (yeah, technically it was a tie – but don’t tell Seán that!!). We have been very lucky while entering open races this year to have the support car services of Kieran and Siobhán, who have been there for both Seán and John had they needed a new wheel, a bit of advice or even just a sticky bottle. There’s loads of pics to come, including the photo from the Ned Flanagan so you can judge for yourself who won. We might even get Seán to write down a few bits about the race – probably nothing but self-congratulatory drivel – but it might be an interesting account of what goes on inside the amateur peloton. Nicolas Roche watch out………….
Racing – Juniors
Junior racing and membership is also continuing, With our own Siobhan Smyth performing admirably in the interclub league, picking up a 2nd place finish in Allen and a very creditable 5th overall in the opening round time trial in Mondello.
Training continues most sunday mornings, though as races are often at the weekend spins are interfered with. Keep an eye for facebook posts for more info.
That’s all there is at the moment, more updates to come.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY, ATHY, 2014
The Wheelers participated in the 2014 Athy Parade, showing off their new colours and equipment. A fine day, the weather held up and the cyclists received more than their share of attention for their striking new colour scheme. The event was exceptionally well run and very well supported by town locals, as the streets were packed with people, eager to get a look at not just the Wheelers, but the entire parade, which had some outstanding floats on display.
Though missing a few members, the club were very delighted to exhibit the jerseys that will be seen all summer racing across the Leinster area, proudly displaying the logos of our sponsors for 2014.
To cap off an already great event, the Wheeelers were adjudicated to have the Best New Enty in the 2014 Pared, and will collect that award at a ceremony this Friday from Athy Town Council.